HONOLULU (KHON2) — An underwater volcano eruption in Tonga on Saturday sent tsunami waves across the Pacific, with satellite images showing a plume of ash rising above the waters. The eruption prompted a tsunami advisory for Hawaii, with some parts seeing a two-foot surge.
One local business in Kailua-Kona saw major damage and lost about 80% of inventory and gear. Sea Quest Hawaii co-owners Manu and Liam Powers said they were shocked when they arrived.
We’re Hawaii’s weather station, get the latest forecast and radar information here
Manu said they got to their office at approximately 4:45 a.m. Saturday after getting a call from a resident in Keauhou Bay who heard a commotion. Their 288-gallon propane tank had been ripped from its mount and plumbing and was carried across the yard.
“When we arrived at the office and saw it across our outdoor waiting area, we knew we were in trouble,” said Manu.
Damage, she says, is totaling around $75,000, which does not include furniture, equipment damage, electronics, payroll for cleanup, or the fee to professionally clean and sanitize the building. Beyond that, she adds that 80% of their retail merchandise — everything from sunscreen to handmade jewelry and wall art — was damaged.
“We donated anything we could simply rinse off and will be donating more after we we have an opportunity to wash off body products and launder apparel,” Manu said. “We do a fair amount in retail and the majority of it was lost.”
Adding to the list are major appliances that were destroyed: their refrigerator, washing machine, dryer, ice maker, dishwasher, POS system, shelving units, phones, printers and even snacks for the tours.
“Anything consumable we tossed out of an abundance of caution,” said Manu.
After a hit like that, Manu said they reopened their rafting and snorkeling adventures business on Sunday since they needed to recoup as soon as possible.
“Almost our entire staff spent 12 hours [Saturday] cleaning, rinsing, sorting, and ultimately cutting out the drywall up to the 2-foot level to expose the studs. It was both intense and productive,” Manu explained. “Spouses came along. Children came along. It was very touching.”
The community also came out to show their support, which Manu calls “so typical of Kona.”
“The wife of the husband and wife team that owns Magic’s Beach Grill showed up with coffee and pastries, Keauhou Canoe Cub came by to see if they could lend a hand and more people than I can count reached out to us directly,” said Manu.
Sea Quest Hawaii tours are running business as usual, while the office remains sealed off for disinfection. This setback, topped by the ongoing pandemic, has the family business experiencing a drop again.
“The past two years have been incredibly stressful,” Manu explained. “The shutdown of our business and cessation of our income, followed by a lack of employees and inconsistency where tourism is concerned have been so difficult to manage. Follow that with omicron, and now this? It’s a difficult situation that has now been compounded significantly. We know we are more fortunate than so many, but there are limits to what a family business can handle.”
While Manu admits “this loss will hurt,” she’s shining a light on the community for being so supportive throughout the pandemic, and now, after this disaster.
“We cannot call on their help any further. We will be fine,” said Manu. “This has been a major setback, but we will come back.”
Manu adds that they’re trying to split donations between Goodwill and Memory Lane. Items range from hats, books, baby blankets and toys to jewelry, candles, sunscreens and lotions.
Manu says Memory Lane is a local, second-hand store where all proceeds from sales go to support the Nakamaru Hale hospice home, the place where her mother was staying.
Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines, boosters and Safe Travels information
“Before she passed, which was in 2014, I promised her I would support the Hale, via donations to Memory Lane, always,” said Manu. “The tsunami hit on the day after what would have been my mother’s 77th birthday. It feels good to be able to donate so much to them. A silver lining, I suppose!”